Built for Success

Starting a business is stressful, but there is plenty of advice available that can guide you and make the process easier and less demanding. One important feature that is often overlooked is office furniture.

You’ve set up shop, your new employees are settled into their workstations, and your first clients are arriving tomorrow. Will they be greeted by bare concrete walls and hard wooden chairs? Are they going to look around and think, “This is a place I want to do business with”?

What can office furniture do for your business?

Appearances matter. A good first impression should set the tone for a lasting relationship with your clients. And if you’ve just started your business, you’ll probably be hiring more staff as you grow. You want to make a good impression on your potential new employees when they come for interviews as well. Hiring someone who looks around and sees an unwelcoming or uncomfortable working environment may prove difficult.

Choosing your office furniture should incorporate the aesthetic appeal as well as the practical uses. It is all very well to have snazzy bar stools around a high tabletop in the lunch room, or vintage decorations, but will they last? Suede sofas are gorgeous but easily attract stains and wear away very quickly. Can you afford to maintain or replace them regularly? And most importantly, will your employees and customers be comfortable using this furniture? These are important questions to answer when selecting your office furniture.

How to arrange your office furniture

When your employees are happy and comfortable in their workspace, your business will prosper. To make sure this is the case, you want office furniture that is designed to keep your staff productive throughout the day. Making a small investment in good quality office furniture now will benefit your business in the long term.

Chairs should be well-cushioned, and have proper back rests, to reduce bodily aches and pains for your staff. Features such as height-adjustable and back incline-adjustable are good to look out for, as they can help employees of different body shapes and sizes remain comfortable.

Desks and tables are also important. Work surfaces should be level with the elbows to prevent slouching. The height of boardroom tables can have a psychological effect on staff and clients; too high and they will feel diminished and less important, too low and they could feel exposed, undervalued and uncomfortable. This of course can be applied to seating as well.

How will the furniture in the workstations, meeting areas and offices be arranged? You could instill a more formal atmosphere by having the guest seating in orderly rows or you can arrange furniture around a central table or decorative feature for a more relaxed environment. Your employees want to feel recognised as individuals, so the typical box cubicle layout is not recommended. Perhaps you could align their desks in pairs alongside building features such as windows, or have a team-building exercise where they arrange the space as they wish.

More than office furniture

Office furniture goes beyond chairs and tables. Lighting, decorations, colours and building features should all be considered when designing an office space. Lighting plays an important role in maintaining the mood and atmosphere of a room. While bright light is preferred over dim light to increase productivity, if it is too bright and harsh it can cause eye problems and other health risks as the body’s internal clock is affected. Fluorescent tubes are useful for large storage spaces, but replace them in the offices with warmer bulbs for a more natural effect. Remember to include lighting at different height levels, such as desk lamps and wall-mounted lights to create a lighter atmosphere as well as an aesthetic appeal.

Painting and decorating the walls is a matter of style and personal preference, but should always reflect the values or image of the business. Including certificates, client testimonials and motivational posters are always a boon, but if the walls are too cluttered it may prove distracting. Dark or strong colours send an equally strong message, and neutral shades are more beneficial in accommodating clients and creating a better working atmosphere.

Decoration need not include expensive artworks, and should be kept simple and unobtrusive. If your business involves the handling of material objects, why not include in your guest area a sample catalogue or mounted example of your product?

The design of your office, especially the office furniture, should create a space that is both conducive to work and productivity, and appealing and engaging to your clients. Having a well-designed and furnished office is a recipe for success.

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